Criterium racing on tight short circuits in city centres has been at the heart of American racing for decades. The furious pace, the non-stop action and the bellowing emcees draw in spectators and introduce people to the sport. Over the last two years, we’ve have been spending more time back in the USA with the youth cycling teams we are involved with. The hour long intense, technical and tactical races provide an ideal learning environment for them to continue and even accelerate their progression.

Last week, we attended the Tour of America’s Dairyland, at ten day criterium series in the Milwaukee area, with the EF-ONTO racing team. The four u17 team racers on the team and one of their u19 teammates rode the top level Professional races, against the best US Crit racers. Initiation to the more intense and furious race pace was tough but they quickly learned how to corner faster, hold their positions at the front and find the flow of the race. By the end of the week, they were carving the turns at speed, winning cash primes, surging into breakaways and challenging their rivals who were ten to fifteen years older. Their daily progression and learnings were remarkable thanks to the race environment and a handful of competitors who gave them bits of friendly advice through the week.

Last summer, Brendan Quirk the current CEO of USA Cycling, outlined the governing body’s plans to promote criterium racing throughout the USA as they see it as a clear avenue for growing their pool of racing cyclists, as Criteriums are a great place to try out bike racing in a non-threatening environment, they are relatively inexpensive, attract a more diverse demographic and they are fun.


Gray Barnett

Ashlin Barry and Enzo Hincapie in a breakaway in the Shorewood Criterium.

Peyton Burkle

Reilly Oberling

Hammer down

Enzo going for a prime

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Downer Avenue Crit

Checking the gap

Gray finished 2nd overall among the Cat. 2 racers.

Photography by Mitchell Vincent